You might think playing with mice is not a fun way
to spend a summer, but for Olivia Kalimon, it’s a step toward a career.
Kalimon, who will be a junior this fall, is doing research
with mice to see the effects of injections of certain chemicals that could lead
her toward useful information in the fight against methamphetamine dependence
“It’s kind of ground-breaking
in a lot of ways,” said Kalimon, a biochemistry major from Crafton. “It
combines biology, chemistry, and
Kalimon is doing her project as part of the IUP
Research Experience for Summer Scholars program, which gives research
opportunities to undergraduate students in a variety of disciplines. This
summer, Kalimon is one of 43 students participating in the program.
Each student is under the advisement of a faculty
member in that field of study. Kalimon is under the guidance of Daniel
Widzowski, Department of Biology.
“There isn’t a lot of research on this,” she said.
“Dr. Widzowski thought this would be interesting and he told me about it. Then, I wanted to find out more about it.”
In her research, Kalimon injects mice with the 5-HTP,
which boosts serotonin levels in the brain. After the injections, Kalimon
places the mice in boxes and then uses a video recorder to capture their
movements over a set period of time. She then watches the video and counts how
many times each mouse twitches its head, which tells a lot about the effects of
She said she hopes the research will lead to
insights into how the human brain functions when methamphetamines are used.
That could lead to the manufacture of more effective drugs in the battle
“We’re looking to find the combination of drugs that
give good side effects and reduce the bad ones,” she said.
Kalimon gave a presentation of her research during
the first RESS Pizza Presenter Series event on June 9. Having the opportunity
to give a presentation is something that was an important factor in Kalimon’s
decision to be a part of the RESS program.
“This program helps me a lot,” she said. “Not just
in the research, but it gave me a chance to present, which you don’t get a lot
of as an undergrad. This will be helpful for me to get my foot in the door for
Kalimon hopes to someday earn a doctoral degree in
biochemistry and work in the medical research field.
She has enjoyed her research so far, but she
admitted her friends and family gave her some strange looks when she told them
she was spending her summer handling mice.
“But It’s actually not as bad as you might think,”
The RESS wraps up its season on August 10, with the
Poster Session in the Ohio Room of the Hadley Union Building. The event runs
from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., and is open to the public.
The keynote speaker will be Dianne Rothstein, an
IUP alumna and vice president of Research at Prime Synthesis, Inc, outside
Philadelphia. The title of her talk is “I Was a Kindergarten Dropout.”